By Melissa Hincha-Ownby on March 16, 2011

Does your municipality accept lids and caps for curbside recycling? The ability to process these materials is increasing after years of wasting.
The Woes of Lid Recycling
Did you know that you might not be able to recycle plastic lids curbside? It’s true: In many places you need to remove the lids from plastic bottles, milk jugs and glass bottles prior to recycling.

The good news is that recyclers are beginning to accept lids and bottle caps for recycling, even curbside, with increasing frequency. So, if curbside lid recycling isn’t available in your area yet, don’t despair, as it may only be a matter of time before you can keep the lid on your milk jug and just toss it in the recycling container.

Now that you know lids can’t always be recycled, you may be wondering why. There are several factors at play, including the fact that the material lids are made out of can’t always be recycled with its container.

If a plastic lid accidentally gets recycled, it could actually contaminate a batch of recycled plastic, rendering it useless. Another factor to consider is that small lids can clog some equipment, creating a headache for employees and sometimes shutting down the recycling process until the jam is cleared.

So, what are you supposed to do with all of your plastic lids? Simple: Save them until your next trip to your local Whole Foods store and drop them off there. Aveda salons also accept many types of lids and caps. If you don’t have a Whole Foods or Aveda location in your area, search the recycling location finder for a drop-off location that accepts plastic #5, the material that most plastic lids are made of.

A quick search of my neighborhood revealed several locations that accept plastic lids on a drop-off basis, including city libraries, city-owned recycling centers, a recreation center and even an elementary school.

I’m lucky, though, as my curbside recycling program accepts plastic caps as part of its single-stream recycling center. However, Chandler, AZ, where I will be moving to in a few months, does not. So, I will have to collect my caps in a separate container and drop them off for processing — a minor inconvenience until Chandler’s system can accept plastic lids.

About the author

Melissa Hincha-Ownby is a freelance writer based in Arizona. She writes about a variety of environmental topics, including green business, green building, eco-friendly vehicles, the importance of a green economy and raising two eco-conscious children.


In addition to writing about the environment, Melissa's other writing passion is special needs parenting. As the mother of two children with special health care needs, she knows the importance of providing support and information to other families on a similar parenting journey.

Learn more about Melissa Hincha-Ownby


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